Futurity by Lucy Aikin

“Tell us, ye dead! will none of you in pity
To those you left behind disclose the secret?
O that some courteous ghost would blab it out!”
Robert Blair’s
The Grave.

Rise, spectres, rise! some pitying ghost, appear,
And pour the grave’s dread secret on mine ear!
Ye live, ye live! Yes, by the generous glow
Of Virtue struggling thro’ a night of woe;
By the fell tyrant on his blood-stained throne;
By nameless wretchedness that dies alone;
By lovely Hope that soothes the parting sigh;
By Faith, bright-beaming from the death-fixt eye,
Ye live! From forth the narrow dark abode
The spirit steals…. some viewless unknown road;….

Then, each fond tie to earth and matter broke
By the free soul, disdainful of the yoke,
Shall it not soar on vigorous pens away
Beyond the ken of thought and golden eye of day?
Or, by fierce flames from mortal dross refined,
Shall it not mingle with the mass of mind?
Absorbed and lost the old familiar store
Of treasuring Memory’s many-coloured lore.
Or does this self, this conscious self, remain
Awake to human joys, to human pain?
Hangs the fond mother o’er her orphan’s head?
Cheers the fond spouse the widow’s sorrowing bed?
In airy watch do guardian spirits stand,
And guide our faltering steps, an angel band?
Or, senseless, wrapt in lone sepulchral gloom,
Sleeps the regardless tenant of the tomb
Till the dread blast shall rouse the silent earth,
And joyful Nature start to second birth,
All nations waken from the awful trance,
And times and realms in wondering gaze advance,
While Memory’s voice renews its tuneful sound,
And marshals all the tribes of earth around,
Bids fresh reviving scenes salute their eyes,
And friend with virtuous friend to lasting bliss arise?

Cease, curious thoughts! too close the shades of night
Veil the dread Future from our anxious sight;
The boldest here may urge their course in vain,
Nor pass one bulwark of the drear domain.
Then,…. when the last faint panting heaves my heart,
And weary Life stands fluttering to depart,….
One beam of joy shall warm my trembling soul
As Doubt’s dun clouds to awful distance roll;
Truth’s angel form my fleeting spirit own,
And spring to clasp her in the world unknown.

From: Aikin, Lucy and Mellor, Anne K. and Levy, Michelle (eds.), Epistles on Women and Other Works, 2011, Broadview Press: Peterborough, Ontario, pp. 12-14.

Date: 1810

By: Lucy Aikin (1781-1864)


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